Crispy Pork Belly with Braised Red Cabbage and Sugar Browned Potatoes

Christmas is steeped in tradition. Special foods! Gifts! Songs! You may want to add this Nordic tradition to your festivities: Pork belly baked with the skin on, which becomes astonishingly crispy. Two simple but strategic accompaniments: braised red cabbage and sugar browned potatoes. The acid from the vinegar and sweetness from the lingonberry jam in the braised red cabbage cuts through the rich pork. The sugar browned potatoes are both creamy and sweet, a perfect contrast to the crisp and salty pork.
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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 12 hr (includes resting time)
  • Active: 40 min
  • Yield: 6 servings
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Ingredients

Pork Belly:

4 pounds boneless skin-on pork belly

2 tablespoons kosher salt 

2 teaspoons baking powder 

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

Cabbage:

6 cups thinly sliced red cabbage

1/3 cup white wine vinegar 

1/4 cup lingonberry jam  

1 teaspoon sugar 

1 teaspoon kosher salt  

Potatoes:

2 pounds small potatoes

1/4 cup sugar  

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter 

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt  

Flaky sea salt, for serving  

Directions

  1. For the pork belly: Pat the skin of the pork belly completely dry. Using a sharp knife, cut parallel lines across the skin and fat, about a 1/2 inch apart, making sure not to cut down into the meat.
  2. Mix the salt, baking powder and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the pork all over with the salt mixture, making sure to get it into the grooves on the skin. Place the pork skin-side up on a rack in a roasting pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours (see Cook's Note).  
  3. About an hour before cooking the pork, allow it to come to room temperature. 
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  
  5. Pour 4 cups of water into the roasting pan with the pork (this will prevent the drippings from burning). Cook until the meat is tender but not falling apart, about 3 hours.  
  6. For the cabbage: Meanwhile, add the cabbage, vinegar, jam, sugar and salt to a large high-sided skillet and mix to combine. Cover, place over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally to make sure the cabbage is not browning, until softened and no longer crisp, about 20 minutes. The cabbage will release some moisture, but if it starts to stick to the bottom of the skillet or seems dry, add water 1 tablespoon at a time to moisten. Keep warm. 
  7. For the potatoes: Put the potatoes in a medium pot, cover with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until the potatoes are tender but not too soft, about 15 minutes. Drain into a colander and set aside for about 10 minutes. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them with your hands or a paring knife.  
  8. Meanwhile, add the sugar to a large skillet and set over medium heat. Cook, without stirring, until the sugar is completely melted, about 3 minutes. When the edges start to turn brown, after about another 3 minutes, add the butter and kosher salt. Using a rubber spatula, stir carefully to combine. Continue to cook until the mixture is amber, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring gently to coat them with the browned sugar, until heated through, about 4 minutes. (Don't worry if the sugar hardens when you first add the potatoes; it will melt again.) Sprinkle with flaky sea salt before serving.  
  9. After the pork belly has cooked for 3 hours, increase the oven temperature to 475 degrees F and continue to cook until the skin is crisp and brown, about 20 minutes more. Let rest for 15 minutes before slicing. Serve with the cabbage and potatoes.

Cook’s Note

Baking powder allows the pork belly skin to break down more efficiently, making it brown and crisp more evenly. A commonly used salt to baking powder ratio is 3:1. The resting period in the refrigerator helps to flavor and tenderize the skin and meat.